Learning & Development

Online Training and Information for a Mobile Workforce

Do you believe the best employee learning occurs while on the job and within the context of the work? There are well-tested steps to follow for rolling out a training solution for a large, mobile workforce.

Courtney Cordova, Director of Change Enablement at Whole Foods Market, presented 5 Steps to Implementing a Modern Mobile Learning Solution Across a Distributed Workforce and discussed how she implemented a form of mobile learning at the 2019 ATD International Conference and Exposition in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 22. ATD is the Association for Talent Development.

Courtney outlined a 5-step solution for training to a large, distributed workforce that by the nature of their work keeps them on the move.

Step 1—Develop the Persona

Identify the “Persona” of the audience so that the content is relevant to the workers as they apply what they learned in their daily tasks. Courtney helped the audience identify a Persona with a case study of 3,000 field workers at a utility company that needed safety training.

She said to use an average profile for the group of workers. Following are her findings for the profile:

  • Men over 50 years old, except a cohort of apprentices that are much younger
  • High school education
  • Diverse ethnic backgrounds
  • More than 30 years with the company
  • Their pay level and skill level
  • Their primary motivation for work was to support their families
  • Written instructions on paper were how they received their work for the day
  • Radio is the primary and usually only way to communicate during the day
  • The instructor-led classroom is the traditional method of training
  • Flip-phones are their personal means of communication, not smartphones

Step 2—Select a Tool to Deliver Training

In the case of employees at Whole Foods, the Persona identification showed that 95% of team members have smartphones. The employee’s smartphones were chosen as the delivery tool because there is little need for instruction on how to use it, and the worker can already use the tool comfortably. The company ensures Wi-Fi® is available at work so that users are not expected to use their own data plan.

In the case of the field workers at the utility company, they will be provided with smartphones and instructed how to use them. They will be able to download the training content before they go in the field each day and view the content offline.

Step 3—Load the Content to the Training Delivery System and Test

Choose the content that will be delivered to workers, making sure that is displays properly on mobile devices. Test the delivery of content: how it streams or downloads to the devices, how it displays.

Courtney clarified that the on-demand mobile learning solution created for Whole Foods provides information and training content to workers, or “team members,” that is not graded with quizzes or exams.

Step 4—Prepare to Launch with Analytics in Place that Measure Progress Toward Training Goals

Ensure the training delivery system meets your goals to access the training, such as:

  • Frequency of use
  • Amount of time it takes the worker to access the information and content that is requested

Step 5—Evaluate the System at Launch and then Continuously

Determine whether the delivery system and content will accomplish the training goals, and ensure that it is continuously available to workers when and where it is needed.

This last step helped Courtney confirm that an e-learning solution with an LMS (Learning Management System) is appropriate for training their sales and logistics staff, but not the appropriate tool for training their team members on the floor working in the stores. They are constantly mobile. There is often only one underused computer workstation in a restaurant or retail location, which makes it impossible for workers to conveniently schedule time for online training sessions and still stay productive. In this case for a large mobile workforce, a mobile device-based delivery system works best to maintain productivity and workflow as well as being convenient and practical for team members.

For more information, contact Courtney at CourtCodova@gmail.com

Dave GaltDavid Galt is the Senior Legal Editor – EHS Training at BLR. Dave coordinates the development and maintenance of all environmental, health and safety training content for the BLR portals and other training products to help businesses comply with OSHA, EPA, and DOT rules. He writes feature articles and presentations about EHS training, workplace safety, and the business value of EHS programs. Dave has presented at ASSE national and regional conferences, NSC, AHMP, and NAEP about EHS training and promoting the business value of EHS. Before joining BLR in 2001, he spent 15 years in the environmental regulatory field as a lobbyist and policy analyst.

Dave serves on the National Environmental, Safety and Health Training Association (NESHTA) Board of Directors. He earned his master’s degree in environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 1997.